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Control Freak: Navigating the Illusion of Control



“Joseph said, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?’” Genesis 50:19


Have you ever been around a control freak, that person who cannot allow anything to happen without their permission? A control freak is no fun to be around. They are bossy, demanding, overbearing, and obnoxious at times. They're also a stress ball who transfers anxiety to everyone around them. 

What is the rationale of a control freak? Simple, they have deceived themself into thinking they can only have peace and rest if they are in control, if they have a hand in all circumstances, all decisions, and all outcomes. Events that occur outside of their control, they think, will spin out of control. Basically, a control freak has two problems. One is with FEAR, a lack of confidence in others’ ability to make good decisions. The other problem is PRIDE, an attempt to take God’s place and call the shots.

At some point in our lives, we are all control freaks, and every control freak needs to learn two basic principles. First, we are not in control; God is. And second, attempting to control our lives or the lives of others is prideful. We are exalting ourselves to God’s position and assuming His authority. Are we in God’s place?

As control freaks, we believe that progress can only occur if we are in charge. However, the truth is that control freaks are often a hindrance to change and hamper progress. Instead, we must humble ourselves and release control to God. By doing so, we will find freedom, which leads to the second principle.

Releasing control to God and trusting Him with life is the path to true peace and rest. As control freaks, we tend to think that we will only have peace if we are in control. However, vying for control only leads to turmoil and worry. It is releasing control and trusting God that allows us to relax and enjoy life, even when unforeseen changes occur. 

Joseph, who had every reason to be fearful and angry about his circumstances, released control of his life and the lives of others to God. Though it seemed that the decisions of others were controlling his life, he knew the deeper truth – that neither he nor others were in control. God was working all things for his good and, in that truth, he could rest (Genesis 45:5, 7, 8; 50:19-21).

So then, you and God are on a two-person bicycle. Which one of you is driving? Who is at the controls? Are you in God’s place? Are you in the front seat, trying to steer, or are you in the back seat trusting His lead? Let go of the controls and find rest.